Archive for the ‘ The Christian Spirit ’ Category

Who Holds To a Biblical Worldview?

Being a Christian is more than having good feelings about Jesus. A real Christian maintains a set of beliefs that are foundational. If any of those basic beliefs are missing, that person either is not a genuine Christian or is teetering on the edge of losing the faith.

The Barna group defines a Biblical worldview as believing the following basics: that absolute moral truth exists; the Bible is completely accurate in all of the principles it teaches; Satan is considered to be a real being or force, not merely symbolic; a person cannot earn their way into Heaven by trying to be good or do good works; Jesus Christ lived a sinless life on earth; and God is the all-knowing, all-powerful creator of the world who still rules the universe today.

How many people are on board with this definition? Well, among the general population, Barna says that less than 1 percent of the youngest adult generation [ages 18-23] has a Biblical worldview. Only 9 percent of all adult Americans have a Biblical worldview. It should be much better with those who identify themselves as Christians, right?

The sad truth is that only 19 percent of those self-identified Christians believe all the basics of the Christian faith. Less than half [46 percent] believe that moral truth is absolute; a mere 40 percent believe Satan is a real entity. If you want to see a fuller disclosure of the findings, go here.

Those who adhere to these truths must continue to spread the message of Romans 12:2: Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Christianity is not a matter of the feelings; it is a changed heart and mind. Both are necessary for a right relationship with God.

The Ultimate Provider

As we listen to all the economic news, and see people who are devastated by the losses they have suffered, we might be tempted to forget some big truths. Some of those big truths can be found in the pen of the Apostle Paul, who suffered in many ways as he labored to spread the Good News. While in prison, he wrote,

Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:11-13)

This is the attitude that Christians should be displaying before the world at all times, but particularly in times like these. If we go around burdened down by worry, we are not offering a solid testimony to God’s provision.

Like everyone else, I have watched as my supposed retirement funds have drained away. Beyond that, we have had to spend money in the past few months that was a significant part of our emergency fund. Well, that’s what an emergency fund is for, isn’t it?

In the midst of all this, I have to remember that no bank, no mutual fund, no government promise is my source of provision. God is the ultimate provider, and that’s where my faith must rest.

Paul, later in the same chapter, talks about the generosity of the Philippians, and then says, “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” That promise must be understood in context. He will supply our needs, but only if we continue to give generously and look to Him as our source. In another place, Paul notes that God loves a cheerful giver. That’s especially true when the giving is more of a sacrifice. But if we remain faithful, He will honor that faithfulness.

Our nation needs to see Christians who respond in this way to the economic crisis. It needs to see a shining manifestation of faith.

Change of Heart

This political cartoon leads me to say something that I have only hinted at, but need to emphasize.

I have been highly critical of the views of our new president, and will remain so. Yet, as a Christian, I believe that even the worst of sinners can change. The apostle Paul started as Saul, the persecutor of Christians. John Newton was a slave trader who was converted and became the writer of “Amazing Grace.”

Can Obama change his views? Yes. Will he? The “odds,” if that is the right term, are against it. He has held these views all of his life, and he was fed a constant radical worldview in college and in all those years in Jeremiah Wright’s “church.”

Yet I cannot close the door to the possibility that God’s Spirit will break through all of those presuppositions. The only way this can reasonably happen is if Christians pray for a true change of heart. We must be faithful to that mission. If Obama does not change, we are in for a very rough patch over the next 4-8 years. That’s why we must concentrate on praying for godly enlightenment.

This does not preclude criticism of his policies and his attitudes. We need to see the reality. There is another reality, however–one that is hidden from human eyes. God is still God. We need to work with Him to see His will done. Isn’t that one of the key provisions of what we call the Lord’s Prayer?

For those of you who are Christians, I urge you to pray for the change of heart that is so desperately needed–for the sake of the unborn, for those who desire to teach Biblical principles, and for the nation as a whole.

Christians really are supposed to be salt and light to this world.

Do You Want Obama to Succeed?

Bill O’ Reilly asked that question in one of his online polls. I didn’t respond. The question is too simplistic, offering no room for explanation for my answer.

I would ask instead, “Do you want the United States to be blessed by God during the Obama presidency?” To that question I can answer an emphatic “yes.” I receive no satisfaction when my nation suffers. I desire that it be an example to the world of righteousness, Biblical morality, and economic prosperity.

But that’s not the same question as “Do you want Obama to succeed?” If he models a Biblical worldview and leads us in a godly direction, then I want him to succeed. If, instead, he maintains his stated goals during the campaign, then I am not in favor of his success.

What does he wish to accomplish? He desires to overturn all laws restricting abortion; he wants to place judges in the federal courts who will treat the Constitution as a “living document,” using the court system to enact a radical liberal agenda; he is in favor of treating homsexuality [characterized as a sin in the Scriptures] as an acceptable, moral lifestyle, even to the point of endorsing same-sex marriage [if you are not aware of this, see my earlier post dated January 13]; and he relishes the idea of the federal government running the economy [otherwise known as socialism]. How can I want those plans to succeed?

My Christian faith has to inform all of my thoughts, attitudes, and decisions. Some would accuse me of being unchristian for not wanting Obama to succeed. I respond that I would be unchristian if I desired any of his plans to come to fruition. Christians need to speak out for God’s standards. I will continue to do that throughout the Obama presidency. If he should happen to put Biblical principles first, I will support him. If he dismisses those principles, I will oppose his efforts. That is the proper Christian response.

Inauguration Day

When the godly are in authority, the people rejoice. But when the wicked are in power, they groan. [Proverbs 29:2]

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession, and thanksgiving be made for everyone–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. [I Timothy 2:1-4]

 

Thank You, Southeastern University

El Prado--The Main Walkway on Campus
El Prado–The Main Walkway on Campus

In this new year, I want to begin with an expression of gratitude. I am in my third year now at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida. Frankly, I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived.

I had taught previously at the graduate level and at a college with high admissions standards dominated by homeschoolers, so returning to an open-admissions university was going to be a challenge, I thought.

In some ways, that has been true, but I have grown to love this place. Why?

First, I have never worked at an institution of higher education that has demonstrated the heart of God as much as I have witnessed here. The openness of the administration toward faculty is refreshing. Without trying to sound too trite, this is the “nicest” place that I have ever worked.

The desire to constantly improve the quality of the campus–the physical structures, the educational standards, and the spiritual atmosphere–is evident. It is a pleasure to come to work, although “work” is often the wrong word. I really do consider this a ministry to the students.

Tuscana Ristorante

Tuscana Ristorante

I have also been given the opportunity to develop courses I’ve never had the privilege to teach before: American Colonial History, The American Revolution, The Civil War Era. But those are basic types of upper-level courses. In addition, I have had the liberty to develop more specialized courses that I know will benefit the students, expanding their understanding of how the Biblical worldview applies to our society.

In particular, last year I taught a full-semester course on Whittaker Chambers, writer of what I consider to be the most significant work of the twentieth century–Witness. This coming semester, I will be offering a course entitled “Ronald Reagan and Modern American Conservatism.” Would I ever have been allowed to teach such courses at a typical university? Highly unlikely.

At one end of the campus is a statue that is supposed to embody the spirit of Southeastern. It is called “The Divine Servant,” depicting Jesus washing the feet of Peter, his disciple.

May that spirit of servanthood always prevail here.

Just What Exactly Did Those Angels Say?

We all know the words, as recorded in the King James Bible and placed in a number of Christmas carols: “peace on earth, goodwill toward men.” But that was the King James version, and I’ve always questioned its accuracy. It seems rather indiscriminate, this goodwill to men, almost like sentimental humanism.

It’s always best to check other translations: For instance, the New American Standard says, “peace on earth among men with whom He is pleased.” Now that is different. It stresses that peace will come only to those who please God.

We see the same emphasis in the New International Version: “peace to men on whom His favor rests.” God’s favor rests on those who respond to Him. Yes, His love is unconditional, but His favor is something else.

I have an interlinear Greek-English New Testament, which translates as follows: “peace among men of good will.” Again, there is the concept of man’s response–you must be someone of good will to obtain His peace.

So when we see those words this Christmas, let’s not just fall into the worldly way of understanding them. The world loves the King James translation because it can turn its phrasing into a lack of personal responsibility. I don’t believe that is what is intended at all.

Peace on earth, and within each individual on earth, is obtained only through a restored relationship with the God of all. That restored relationship is available via the One who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. There is no other alternative.